Football

Lukaku should be banned for ‘violent act’, says ex-ref Poll

But British media reports suggest Belgian has avoided retrospective sanction

Romelu Lukaku has escaped sanction after television replays appeared to show him kicking out at Brighton's Gaetan Bong.

The incident happened during the corner which led to Ashley Young's deflected winner at Old Trafford last Saturday.

                       EPL
WATFORD MANCHESTER UNITED

Referee Neil Swarbrick and his assistants seemed to have missed the incident but the English Football Association can study the match official's report and choose to take action.

However, British media reported that FA's panel of three former referees could not reach a unanimous decision that it was a red-card offence. If they had, the Belgian could have faced a three-match ban which would see him miss tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) away match against Watford, Sunday morning's home clash with Arsenal and the Manchester Derby against City on Dec 11.

Former Premier League and Fifa referee Graham Poll is adamant that "Lukaku's assault" should have been punished.

He wrote in his Daily Mail column: "Lukaku must face a three-match ban once the FA view replays of the incident between the Belgian and Brighton's Gaetan Bong...

"The incident started with the usual jostling between players at a corner but turned into a much more serious clash.

"Lukaku was impeded as the corner came in but his reaction was extreme, kicking out first with his right foot and then making full contact with his left foot somewhere quite painful.

"It was a violent act which would have resulted in a red card had referee Neil Swarbrick seen it. The Brighton fullback did remarkably well to not react, nor complain to the officials. He deserves praise for that."

However, fellow former Premier League and Fifa referee Dermot Gallagher said he "would be surprised" if the 24-year-old had received a retrospective punishment.

He told Sky Sports: "The act has to be one of violence or brutality. It's not really either for me. This appears to be one of petulance."

Lukaku, who has scored in only one of his last 10 games, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent times due to his goal drought.

However, his boss Jose Mourinho has no issues with the Belgian hitman's lack of goals after he scored 11 in his first 10 matches following his £75 million (S$134.4m) move from Everton in July.

He said: "In the last minute (against Brighton), he was fighting and running back like he was in the first minute, so I think it is also a mentality question.

"The way Romelu wins the corner for the goal, the way Romelu ends the game making tackles in the left-back position - that is the mentality I want.

"Some guys are capable to go into the limits of their efforts and some other guys even with a lot of talent, they don't manage to do that. So Romelu, for me, (is) fantastic.

"Didn't score, I don't care."

Former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown, however, believes Mourinho needs to bench his No. 1 striker.

He wrote in his column for the Daily Mail: "If Jose Mourinho wants to get Romelu Lukaku firing again, he needs his £75-million striker to reach boiling point.

"I am not talking about a petulant reaction to a penalty-box wrestle with an opponent, but rather his performance.

"It might be the right moment to leave him out against Watford. Give him some space so that he comes back an angry man, with some fight and determination.

"I have described Lukaku as a pussycat, whereas Manchester United want a lion on display (and we all know which animal Zlatan Ibrahimovic likes to compare himself to)." - WIRE SERVICES

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